The Irish Local Development Network (ILDN) have called on the Government to provide immediate clarity on how it intends to address the gap that will emerge when the current LEADER programme ends on December 31st 2020. ILDN who represent the 35 Local Development Companies that deliver the LEADER programme across rural areas have set out a range of proposals to the Minister for Social Protection, Community & Rural Development Heather Humphreys and Minister of State for Community Development, Joe O’Brien.

Commenting on the forthcoming deadline, ILDN Chairman Jim Finn said; “Of immediate concern to ILDN members is the forthcoming prospect of no funding being available for LEADER in rural communities on 1st January 2021 caused by the gap in timing between EU programmes. In addition to LEADER, ILDN members also deliver a broad range of services to rural communities which would be under threat.

It is critical that the two year gap of funding in LEADER is addressed urgently and in this context, ILDN members welcome the government’s commitment for ‘Rural Development’ in the Programme for Government (PfG) and the need to provide ongoing socio-economic stimulus for rural communities. We are mindful of the ongoing negative impact that COVID-19 is having on our rural communities, both socially and economically. The LEADER method can assist rural enterprises and the social economy to rise to the challenges, reinvent sectors and business and capitalise on significant new opportunities becoming available through climate change and transition.

The 35 rural ILDN members wish to highlight the ‘critical nature’ of the issues raised and of the ‘urgency’ required in addressing these issues. As key rural development stakeholders in our communities nationally, we are committed to working with the Minister and Officials in assisting government in realising the above key commitments in its Programme for Government and working to ensure critical rural services are not lost.


Note to editors:

ILDN’s position paper on Pilot Interim Rural Development Programme 2021-2022 is available here: https://ildn.ie/ildn-position-paper-pilot-interim-rural-development-programme-2021-2022/